Film: Top 20 Films of 2018

*Presented in no particular order.

The House That Jack Built
Dir: Lars Von Trier

Whilst 2018 was a solid year for horror thanks to Ghost Stories, Hereditary and Halloween, no film was as horrendously disturbing as The House That Jack Built. Von Trier’s distressing glimpse into several key incidents in the life of a serial killer is provocative, risky filmmaking at its most exciting.

Postcards from London
Dir: Steve McLean

McLean’s film is part idealistic fantasy celebrating the aesthetics of some of the queer art world’s most iconic figures (Caravaggio, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud) and part tribute to the lost world of Soho’s educated rent boys and their post-coital witticisms – all set against a coming of age in the big city story. 

Dir: Luca Guadagnino

Guadagnino manages to create a horror beast with a new visual flavour to Argento’s original 1977 horror – racked with grandiose spectacle, an unnerving sense of dread, and a complex introspective glimpse into the fragility of the human psyche.

Treat Me Like Fire
Dir: Marie Monge

Marie Monge’s tale of two star-crossed lovers doomed for defeat by the criminal underworld plays out like a contemporary Bonnie and Clyde. Thrilling direction and stellar performances from Stacy Martin & Tahar Rahim ensure this glimpse into Paris’ seedy underworld shines.

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn
Dir: Jim Hoskings

Where Jim Hoskings went after The Greasy Strangler was a question that filled up with curiosity – and now where Hoskings goes after An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn is a question that has a similar effect. This off-kilter comedy shines through its original comic beats, dated aesthetics and unique sense of weirdness. 

Dir: Gaspar Noé

This tale of a party going off the rails and falls into a hallucinogenic, feral orgy of sex, violence and horror, sees Noé deliver a full sensory takeover. Pounding disco music, sweeping camerawork and thrilling dancing makes Climax feel like the works of the Marquis de Sade produced by Cerrone and Giorgio Moroder.

Dir: David Gordon Green

This sequel to John Carpenter’s original seminal horror steers the franchise back in the correct direction through its brutal mix of bare bones slasher and nostalgic throwback. Jamie Lee Curtis delivers an outstanding performance as Laurie Strode preparing for Michael Myers’ return – all showcased through Carpenter’s brand new score.

The Wife
Dir: Björn Runge

Glenn Close delivers a titanic performance in The Wife with every gesture, glance and movement delivering heavyweight emotional blows.

Dir: Panos Cosmatos

Packed with stellar aesthetics from its magical, misty blood-soaked imagery, to Nicolas Cage’s ferocious performance, everything about Mandy works so well. It’s off-kilter, grisly horror with big aspirations which it reaches with ease. 

Dir: Coralie Fargeat

This feminist Euro-horror delivered on brutal aesthetics and a narrative centred on the relentless perseverance of its lead scream queen, Matilda Lutz. Both exploitative and transgressive, Revenge feels like an old Grindhouse flick ramped-up with contemporary levels of slick gore, male nudity and searingly tense direction.

First Reformed
Dir: Paul Schrader

Schrader’s complex, lacerating piece sees him return to his provocative masterpieces (Hardcore, Taxi Driver) of yesteryear as he explores the spiritual breakdown of Ethan Hawke’s mesmerising protagonist. 

The Racer and the Jailbird
Dir: Michaël R. Roskam

A sublime performance from Matthias Schoenaerts, sharp direction from Roskam, and early narrative success are enough to save Racer and the Jailbird from a misjudged final act.

Dir: Marcel Gisler

Mario is an exceptionally relevant and necessary piece of cinema, depicted with a natural sincerity and conviction by Gisler. A stirring sensuality and chemistry seen in the skilled performances of Hubacher and Altaras ensure this is a tender, emotionally captivating film. 

The Happy Prince
Dir: Rupert Everett

This glimpse into the last years of Oscar Wilde is grafted with a heartfelt passion from Everett – who delivers a performance that taps into the writer’s wit and conflicted loves and desires. Darkly comic with a numbing sadness – Everett crafts a staggering debut.

Dir: Ari Aster

Relentlessly disturbing, Hereditary is like a nightmare that gradually escalates in dread throughout. A ferocious turn from Toni Collette and a narrative with the suspense of Rosemary’s Baby, Hereditary delivers gut-punching horror twists and turns throughout.

Mansfield 66/67
Dir: P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes

A documentary that feels part Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon (Anger is a key contributor here) and part John Waters’ campfest (Waters is here too). Hughes and Ebersole fill the film with gusto through experimental music numbers, original rock’n’roll cutaways, and animated recreations. It’s kitsch, amusing, and the perfect tribute to the showstopping wit, excess and glamour of Mansfield. 

Love, Simon
Dir: Greg Berlanti

Romantic mystery hooks us into this undeniably important coming of age piece that’s impeccably performed by Nick Robinson. A mix of light-heartfelt drama and sweet aesthetics ensure this is entertaining – but it’s what this film represents that’s more important – mainstream queer romance.

Ghost Stories
Dir: Andy Nyman & Jeremy Dyson

Blending black comedy with occult horror for several short films is a winning mix for Nyman and Dyson. This takes us back to the nostalgic horror of Amicus’s atmospheric gloomy portmanteaus with unnerving twists and turns a plenty.

The Shape of Water
Dir: Guillermo del Toro

Distinctive aesthetics, heartfelt emotion and an absorbing narrative helped The Shape of Water to Awards glory earlier this year – and it still stands as one of the year’s strongest films. 

The Old Man & the Gun
Dir: David Lowery 

Stunning performances from Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek help The Old Man & the Gun shine. This nostalgic crime-caper delivers light fun and suspense, but the real treat is Redford’s undeniable star power.

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